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Humans can do more than tech to curb bullying

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-02


Bullying on campus is increasingly becoming a problem, but the move by Aofeng School in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, to install gadgets inside toilets to catch bullying incidents is getting a lot of attention.

The school has installed a campus alarm system in sensitive places such as toilets that employs voice recognition and sensitive word activation, so that if someone is being bullied, the system can alert members of staff by triggering specific distress signals, prompting their intervention.

The system utilizes artificial intelligence for voice recognition, but its effectiveness doesn't depend solely on these technologies. More important than the technology are the members of the school staff that are deployed to respond swiftly and effectively to the distress calls.

Fundamentally, technology serves as a conduit for reporting instances of bullying to the school authorities. What is truly noteworthy is the authorities' realization that timely intervention is required to halt bullying. In most cases of bullying in schools, educators and the administrators have overlooked early warning signs, allowing the situation to spiral out of control. And this can, at times, prove fatal. For instance, in a recent tragic case in Handan, Hebei province, three middle school students plotted and took the life of their 13-year-old classmate. The perpetrators had reportedly bullied the boy extensively, yet the school's dean claimed there was no evidence of bullying before the murder.

Had the school paid closer attention to the bullying that preceded the murder, the tragedy could perhaps have been averted. Paying greater attention to "minor" instances of bullying at school can surely help nip it in the bud.

Returning to the system in Fuzhou, the school has indicated that the initiative is currently in its experimental phase and will be implemented once it is refined further. Should the system prove effective, relevant government bodies can consider implementing similar mechanisms in other schools to curb bullying on campus. However, it is crucial for them to bear in mind that it is human action, not just technology, that can help address this pervasive issue.

In the battle against bullying on campus, just deploying advanced technology is not enough. Conscientious attention to the issue and a proactive response from the authorities is also necessary. Technology can definitely serve as a vital tool, but it is the human element — attentiveness, care, and timely intervention — that ultimately holds the key to creating a safer environment for all students.

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